As we are now being advised to up our fruit and vegetable consumption to 7 portions a day, I thought this would be a timely reminder to revisit a blog I wrote about phytonutrients and why they are so important in the diet.
But it’s not just the phytonutrients that are important. We also benefit from increased fibre in the diet which is essential for a healthy functioning digestive system; it helps to lower blood pressure; feeds the beneficial bacteria we have in our gut and helps to keep us feeling full for longer.
We can also get a wonderful range of vitamins and minerals from our fruit and veg.
With regard to the new advice, I would recommend that you opt for more vegetables and salads than fruit. Many fruits are high in sugars and eaten in isolation can cause sugar ‘spikes’. Temperate climate fruits such as berries, apples, pears and plums are lower in sugars that fruits such as grapes, melon and tropical fruits. That is not to say that the latter should be avoided, just eaten in moderation.
Also, be careful of drinking too many of your fruits and veg. Unfortunately, juicing removes the fibre which is a so important (see above). Fibre also helps to slow the digestion of the fruit reducing blood sugar imbalance. I often recommend that you should stir a couple of spoons of the pulp back into your juice.
What’s a portion?
To help you on your way to achieving your 7 a day, here are some portions of both fruit and veg to add to your diet:
One portion (80g) =
- Half an avocado pear
- 3 tablespoons of peas or beans (pulses)
- 1 handful of sugar snap or mangetout peas
- ½ a large pepper
- 2 large spears of broccoli
- 4 tablespoon green beans
- A cereal bowl of lettuce or watecress
- 1 medium apple, banana, pear or orange
- 4 heaped tablespoons of blueberries, blackberries, raspberries
- 2 kiwi fruit
- Half a grapefruit